OPM Deploys ‘Government Coaches’ After Hack

Coaches to teach ‘self-reflection, creativity, and problem solving’

• June 18, 2015 5:00 am


The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is deploying "government coaches" to teach employees "self-reflection, creativity, and problem solving," just after the agency disclosed it was the target of the biggest cyber attack in U.S. history.

The agency built a government-wide database to deploy federal workers to coach their counterparts in other agencies, in an attempt to boost morale.

"Coaching is one of the most valuable developmental resources we can offer our people, and has been linked to positive outcomes such as increased productivity, retention, and engagement," according to a memo sent by OPM to federal agencies. "Fundamentally, coaching is an experiential development process that supports learners in achieving specific professional goals. A successful coaching engagement promotes and sustains professional growth and competence."

Federal News Radio reported that the government hopes the personal coaches can be used to "boost federal employees' sagging morale and even make agencies more productive."

"Our ultimate goal is a coaching culture across the government, empowering leaders at all levels to practice the types of skills and approaches we believe are vital to learning and success," said OPM Deputy Associate Director Steve Shih.

"These would be: self-reflection, creativity and problem solving, accountability, and candid and respectful communication," he said.

OPM defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential."

The OPM database will have a list of federal employees who can act as certified coaches "who can be deployed to help any federal employee at any agency," according to Federal News Radio, which described the coaches as "less like sports; more like Cinderella's ride."

Currently there are 110 registered coaches, though OPM is moving to "train 60 more within the next few weeks," and start a "marketing push" to federal agencies.

It is unclear how much the database, marketing, and training has cost taxpayers. OPM did not immediately return request for comment.

OPM is reeling from the disclosure that at least 4.2 million federal employees had their personal information compromised by suspected Chinese hackers.

Two cyber attacks may have affected as many as 14 million government employees, including security clearance holders in the Defense Department, FBI, and CIA.

Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) is calling on OPM Director Katherine Archuleta to resign in light of the hacks. Archuleta is a long-time political aide, who has worked for Democrats for three decades.

Archuleta worked as an aide to former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, and in the Clinton administration as Peña’s chief of staff and senior policy adviser when he led the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy.

She returned to Denver to become a senior policy adviser to Democratic Mayor John Hickenlooper, and then "spent the first two years of the Obama administration serving as the chief of staff at the Department of Labor to Secretary Hilda Solis."

While OPM has been planning its coaching database, the agency had not updated its IT security, was using outdated software, and the "agency staff in charge of computer security had no technology background."

Published under: Government Spending